Bathurst will become the sixth diocese in Australia to formalise the relationship between its Anglican and Catholic churches when Bishops Richard Hurford and Bishop Michael McKenna sign a covenant of friendship next week.
Representatives will travel from across the state on Thursday to witness the historic event, which will consolidate the connection between the two Christian denominations.
Catholic Bishop McKenna said the covenant was a celebration of a “long-standing friendship and cooperation”.
“It is a chance to let everyone know the Anglicans and the Catholics are good friends, with a common belief in Jesus Christ,” Bishop McKenna said.
“We’re making public a reality that is already there and encouraging people to celebrate all that we have in common, rather than our differences.”
The signing of the covenant will feature in a three-stage liturgy, which will begin at the Catholic Cathedral of St Michael and St John at noon.
The congregation will then walk through Machattie Park to All Saints’ Anglican Cathedral for the signing and the exchange of two icons, which will hang in each cathedral as a “permanent and visual reminder” of the bond between the two.
Anglican Bishop Hurford emphasised the importance of modelling and encouraging a positive relationship between denominations.
“For the community of the Central West of this state, we would like our cathedrals, churches, bishops, clergies and lay people to be encouraged to walk together,” Bishop Hurford said. “The Catholic and Anglican denominations are within one faith – Christianity.
“My own family has an interfaith dimension and I really value that we have Roman Catholic members of our family.
“It think it is important for the rising generation to observe there is one Christian faith and various traditions. The late Pope John Paul II reminded us that as Christians we share a common baptism.
“I hope confidence can be drawn from the leadership of both churches to allow us to walk together more intentionally.”
The signing of the covenant has been scheduled to take place before Bishop Hurford’s retirement at the end of this year.
Bishop McKenna said the timing of the signing was, in part, a tribute to the work of his colleague.
“It will recognise all Richard has done for relations between our two communities,” he said. “And, to use an old quote: if not us, who; if not now, when.”
Oh, and lest they forget, the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross is soon coming. Yes. Now that’s truly historic.